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Abstractions blog

Diagram showing show the hierarchy of different classes.
Abstractions blog

A Short Guide to Hard Problems

What’s easy for a computer to do, and what’s almost impossible? Those questions form the core of computational complexity. We present a map of the landscape.

Photo of the sun
Abstractions blog

What Is the Sun Made Of and When Will It Die?

If and when physicists are able to pin down the metal content of the sun, that number could upend much of what we thought we knew about the evolution and life span of stars.

Illustration for "Why Can’t We Find Planet Nine?"
Abstractions blog

Why Can’t We Find Planet Nine?

Astronomers suspect that there’s a large planet hiding out in the distant fringes of the solar system. At a recent workshop, they brainstormed ways to coax it into view.

Photo for "The Milky Way Once Collided With Another Galaxy"
Abstractions blog

The Young Milky Way Collided With a Dwarf Galaxy

Astronomers have found stars dating from a long-ago collision between the Milky Way and another galaxy. The crash helps to explain why the Milky Way looks the way it does.

Photo of inside the MiniBooNE tank
Abstractions blog

Evidence Found for a New Fundamental Particle

An experiment at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago has detected far more electron neutrinos than predicted — a possible harbinger of a revolutionary new elementary particle called the sterile neutrino, though many physicists remain skeptical.

Photo of Emmanuelle Charpentier, Virginijus Šikšnys, Jennifer Doudna
Abstractions blog

CRISPR Gene-Editing Pioneers Win Kavli Prize for Nanoscience

The inventors of a “Swiss army knife” for genome editing received prestigious honors, as did pioneering scientists in astrophysics and neuroscience.

Image of feathers
Abstractions blog

How Brain Waves Surf Sound Waves to Process Speech

By paying more attention to behaviors, and not just the activity of neurons, two researchers critical of most neuroscience learned how brains make sense of spoken language.

Art for "Artificial Neural Nets Grow Brainlike Navigation Cells"
Abstractions blog

Artificial Neural Nets Grow Brainlike Navigation Cells

Faced with a navigational challenge, neural networks spontaneously evolved units resembling the grid cells that help living animals find their way.

Photo of Large Magellan Cloud rotating clockwise.
Abstractions blog

What Astronomers Are Learning From Gaia’s New Milky Way Map

A roundup of some of the most important discoveries gleaned so far from the Gaia space observatory’s new map of the galaxy.